SICILE. Sicily and the Mediterranean between the 7th and the 12th century: internal diversity and Mediterranean polycentrism

  • Section: Antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • Directors: Annliese Nef, lecturer, University Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne and member of UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée [East and Mediterranean]; Lucia Arcifa, associate professor, University of Catania and School of Specialization in Archaeological Heritage - Syracuse


This project aims to improve our understanding of the effects of the evolutions occurring in the Mediterranean on Sicily between the 7th and 12th century and the role played by Sicily in these changes. During this phase, the Mediterranean islands, often disputed between rival powers, are a measure for the transitions between successive dominations and areas in contact with various political and cultural evolutions. These processes give birth from the ninth century in Sicily to a territorial diversification, which needs to be clarified. The archaeological and ceramic investigation, in addition to the analysis of other sources, will be central to this project.

For a decade, studies on Sicily in the Middle Ages have multiplied, reflecting a renewed interest in the transition between Byzantium and Islam. These processes will become better known as more precise chronological indicators for late-Byzantine and Islamic periods are identified.

We need to move from a model that explains social transformations mainly by exogenous factors and by successive political domination to a model emphasizing the island's social dynamics and the methods of appropriation of social and cultural practices and their regional variations.



  • Excavation campaign (L. Arcifa) at Rocchicella di Mineo
  • Petrographic and chemical analyzes of fabrics and SEM-EDS analyzes of the glazes of a first sampling from Palermo from the theses of V. Sacco (Gancia and Palazzo Bonagia: Y. Waksman, J. Burlot) and V. Testolini (Castello San Pietro): V. Testolini, P. Day)
  • First mission in Tunisia (A. Nef, V. Sacco)


  • Excavation campaign (L. Arcifa) at Rocchicella di Mineo
  • Study season (M. Messina and V. Sacco) for material from the excavations at Nuova Pretura (Palermo, dir. L. Arcifa and F. Ardizzone)
  • Study season (V. Sacco) of pottery from Qasr al-Aliya (Tunisia, dir. F. Bahri, INP)
  • Discussion of the first results of the physicochemical and petrographic analyzes (C. Capelli and V. Sacco) of the materials from the Palermo contexts (Gancia and Palazzo Bonagia).


  • Excavation campaign (L. Arcifa) at Rocchicella di Mineo
  • Completion of the study (M. Messina and V. Sacco) of materials from the excavations of the Nuova Pretura (Palermo) April-May
  • Study mission (V. Sacco) for the pottery from Qasr al-Aliya (Tunisia, dir. F. Bahri, INP) October-November
  • Presentation of the project and first results at the end of May at Oxford
  • Working session on petrographic and SEM analyzes in Sheffield at the end of May 2019
  • Autumn: preparation of an article on the physicochemical and petrographic analyzes carried out on the materials of the Palermo contexts (Castello San Pietro, Gancia, Bonagia Palace).

Outputs and expected results

  • Scientific articles
  • Monograph L. on the process of territorial diversification in Sicily between the sixth and the eleventh century
  • Monograph on the excavations at Nuova Pretura (Palermo)
  • Monograph A. Nef on the differentiated integration of Ifrîqiya and Sicily in the Islamic empire (7th-10th century)
  • Presentation of the project and results at international symposia

Page translated from French, 2020/04/01

European and national Programmes (ERC, ANR)

Laboratoire International Associé (LIA)